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Conceiving God: The Cognitive Origin and Evolution of Religion Hardcover – March 1, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson; First edition (March 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 050005164X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500051641
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #357,667 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Endlessly fascinating… Gives countless insights… A must for any anthropology studies collection.”

About the Author

David Lewis-Williams is Professor Emeritus and Senior Mentor at the Rock Art Research Institute, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. He is the author of The Mind in the Cave, Conceiving God, Inside the Neolithic Mind, and Deciphering Ancient Minds.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 8 customer reviews
I have read deeply in the literature of philosophy, humanism, and the origins of religion.
Doctor B
This speaks of a baseline or intuitive cognitive constraint that makes it very hard to imagine the cessation of consciousness since it is paradoxical.
Thomas Adam L.
This fantastically written and researched book shows how religion gets it wrong, and how fundamentalism is dangerously wrong.
Ronald A. Trussell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By george korolog on September 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is an absolutely marvelous book to challenge your thinking not only about the cognitive development of religion and its rituals, both modern and in the mind of man in pre-history, but a well documented book on the tremendous divisions and dangers inherent in religions that are based on belief in the supernatural realm. Is morality evolutionary and do the building blocks of morality pre-date humanity? Why does the teaching of supernatural belief lead us to fanaticism? How do religions consistently revamp their interpretations of their "revealed truths" in order to maintain control of their message. In theology, truth is always post hoc. I could go on and on with all of the valuable information and insight that Dr. Lewis presents, but if you have an interest in understanding evolution, religion and anthropology, I recommend this book highly. Conceiving God: The Cognitive Origin and Evolution of Religion
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Michael F. Drummy on December 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I originally borrowed this book from my local library but halfway through it I knew I was going to want to purchase it so I could re-read it and use it as a resource in the future. I have a PhD in historical theology myself but have been a full-fledged atheist for going on a decade or so now - no question about it. This book only serves to reinforce that position. Dr Lewis-Williams argues forcefully and persuasively for the development of belief in a supernatural realm from an evolutionary-archaeological point of view. Somewhere in our (ie homo sapiens) distant past - when we began to think and communicate symbolically - we very gradually "posited" a supernatural realm in order to make sense out of our often terrifying and bewildering cognitive experiences of our interior lives (eg dreams and emotions and altered states) over against the natural material world. For reasons we may never ascertain - this belief in a supernatural realm was obviously sustained over time in our species through natural selection - it HAD to confer some sort of survival advantage on the groups among whom it evolved otherwise it would never have lasted. Socially and culturally the representations and rituals and doctrine and practices and beliefs arising therefrom became universally embedded in our collective human experience and consciousness as "religion". It could therefore be argued that religion is literally "all in our head" - although I don't believe Prof Lewis-Williams says it quite like that - in fact he is at great pains to avoid the very real errors of reductionism. He demonstrates how the "scientific mind" arose out of and has surpassed the "religious mind" in terms of helping us understand more deeply and accurately the world in which we live.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Why did mankind go to embrace the concept of God? "Conceiving God: The Cognitive Origin and Evolution of Religion" explores the deepest history of religion and how it was cultivated out of the minds of early man. Going deep into the psychology of religion and how the earliest believers in a supreme being came up with their beliefs and began creating their customs and rituals that would ring true in generations to come. An endlessly fascinating read that gives countless insights on God, "Conceiving God" is a must for any anthropology studies collection.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ronald A. Trussell on August 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This fantastically written and researched book shows how religion gets it wrong, and how fundamentalism is dangerously wrong. A culmination of insight regarding the development of human consciousness, begun in "The Mind in the Cave", we see how the regular experiences which occur in all human brains is mistaken for contact with "otherworldliness" and then used as an excuse, or litmus test, to exclude and control. A brilliant book.
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